ATP Finals: Berdych beats Cilic and keeps his semifinal hopes alive - UBITENNIS
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ATP Finals: Berdych beats Cilic and keeps his semifinal hopes alive

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TENNIS ATP FINALS – Tomas Berdych defeated Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1 in 1 hour and 14 minutes. The Czech has improved his chances of qualifying for the semifinals with this result. The Croatian is out of the competition. From London, Paul Sassoon

Tomas Berdych won a match that was far from entertaining. It was a flat match with very few exciting exchanges and even less winners. The Czech won basically because Cilic made too many unforced errors (30 in two sets for just 11 winners, the Czech made 16 winners and 17 unforced errors). The stands of the O2 Arena were not packed (unusually) and the fans present were fighting to keep their eyes open. Even fans armed with Croatian flags were very subdued and the monotonous nature of this encounter made the situation worse. The biggest cheer came when the cameras showed an enthusiastic Japanese fan that started to dance during the court change.

In the press conference Berdych confirmed that the match was not at a level that fits such a competition, “I felt much better on the court. But still it was not one of my best. That’s fair to say.”

The first set was settled by breaks in the first and last games. Cilic had the chances to get back into the match but the Czech managed to find two good serves on the two break points for the croat.

The second set was even more one-sided. Cilic won his first service game, but he then lost 5 games in a row. In the second set Cilic had four chances to break, but he failed to convert any of the chances.

It was another quick and uneven match, the seventh in this year’s ATP Finals, but this does not seem to surprise the Czech number one, “I’m not surprised at all. I mean, the tennis could go really either way. It’s not about that something is wrong or not. That’s how it is. That’s the fact. I don’t think that we have to look for it more deeply. Just take it as a fact, and that’s it”. I am not sure that the fans who pay £60 pounds a session would agree. This is an issue for this tournament that is used to packed stands and an electric atmosphere and is counting on the box-office success to get the contract renewed this spring for the right to host the ATP Finals. Berdych said he is in favour of keeping the tournament in the British capital, “I experienced last five years, it’s incredible event with great atmosphere, with the spectators. They come up every day, fill up the stadium, make a great atmosphere. That’s why we play tennis. That’s the best feeling when you step on court and have a crowd like that. Of course, the hospitality and so on, so on, it’s on the highest level.”

This win keeps Berdych in contention for a place into the semifinal, but it will all depend on his next match against Novak Djokovic, “I’m going to try to, you know, maybe three, four games. That would be better from the last time” the Czech joked. “You know, it’s always a huge challenge to play No. 1 player in the world. The way he’s playing, where are we playing, it’s pretty much all set up for him and for his game. That’s how it is.”

In the press room Cilic was very disappointed with his performance in these two matches, “it’s, of course, a little bit disappointing to play like this. I was not expecting it. But sort of I feel a little bit tired, and body feels a little bit tired on the court. It seems that the things that I’m doing that are all basically going in a wrong direction. Especially with these guys at this kind of level, even small mistakes, or if you’re not at your best performances, the outcome is not going to be going in your favour.”

Depending on tonight’s result, the Croatian can still qualify for the semifinal if he beats Wawrinka on Friday, “I will have small chances to go through the groups. It’s going to be I think more pressure on Stan, that he has to win. I mean, we’ll see, I don’t know. But, anyway, I’m going to try to enjoy. I deserve to be here as a matter of having a great season. Of course, try to play well and to perform well on Friday.”

Jokingly Ubaldo Scanagatta asked him if he was tempted to swap places with his coach Goran Ivanisevic, “you see Goran, when he’s playing his exhibition matches, okay, it’s still fun and he’s not going full. But, no, his serve is still, I would say, one of the best motion that the game has seen, I would say, for sure. So it would be interesting to bring him couple points in”

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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